The Civil War and Eastport, ME

Welcome to Eastport, Maine, home of Shackford Head State Park and the easternmost city in the United States! Located on the Bay of Fundy, this quaint coastal town has all the charm you would expect from a small east coast city, but don’t let its size fool you- Eastport has some big time sightseeing destinations that make this city one of the coolest places to visit in Maine.

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The main reason that brought us to Eastport was Shackford Head State Park, because state parks are wonderful and I have a mighty need to see them all.

Shackford Head features an interconnected trail system that leads you through lush woods to a rocky headland, passing by beaches and protected coves along the way. From the overlook at the top of the headland you can see Cobscook Bay and parts of Canada. It is also a great park for wildlife viewing, particularly several species of birds including bald eagles!

You can stop at some of the beaches to swim if you want (and the weather permits); while it was much too cold for swimming when we were there, I was still super excited to get to touch the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.

And to make the park even cooler, it has some pretty awesome ties to history as well (keep reading for more info on that!).

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My first time touching the Atlantic Ocean!! 😀

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The Shackford Head Interconnected Trail System, 2 miles round trip

“The Shackford Head and Overlook Trails (1.2-mile roundtrip) provide fantastic views of Cobscook Bay and surrounding peninsulas. If you enjoy challenging terrain with additional overlooks, continue on the Ship Point Trail (an additional half-mile loop) and return to the parking lot via the Schooner Trail for a total of roughly 2 miles.” (Maine Trail Finder website)

So basically, in just two miles you can hike all of the trails in the park. Win!

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Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Be careful when exploring the beaches – tides fluctuate at more than 20′ and move in quickly.
  • During the spring and summer, keep an eye out for ticks, which carry Lyme disease. Check yourself for bites after your visit.
  • Swimming is permitted at all the beaches, but isn’t recommended at Cony Beach due to being the site of Civil War ship demolition (more info on that coming).
  • This park is not staffed by rangers, so take extra caution while hiking and exploring as there is no help nearby.
  • And definitely be cautious on high bluffs and cliffs. There are a lot of slick surfaces in this park.

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Boardwalks!

For a list of all the trails in Shackford Head State Park, visit the Maine Trail Finder website!


The thing that really sets Shackford Head apart from other state parks though is its ties to the Civil War (ah, the post title finally makes sense hehe).  In the early 1900s, five Civil War battleships were burned here at Cony Beach to salvage any usable brass and iron.

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We had to cross the barrier of squishy old seaweed swarmed by gnats in order to reach the alleged Civil War battleship remains. That is determination, y’all.

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Sea critters!

We had heard that some of the remains of the ships were still left on the beach, so naturally we had to investigate…

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We definitely found some interesting structures, but were they part of the old Civil War ships? I don’t know. It seems odd that any left over pieces would survive over 100 years of tides, weather, and visitors, but you never know…they did look an awful lot like ship pieces…

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But old Civil War ship remains or not, they were still fascinating to look at and formed some cool tide pools, whatever they might be.

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And Cony Beach itself is beautiful and worth seeing even if it may or may not contain a piece of Civil War history. East coast beaches are so different from the beaches back home in LA. And I love them.

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Even if those weird structures on the beach aren’t pieces of old battleships, Shackford Head still has Civil War historical sights to check out.

In the large grassy area across from the parking lot, there is a memorial for all the ships that were burned here at Cony Beach, as well as informational plaques with photographs:

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I mean, based on the photos, the things on the beach very well COULD be pieces of the ships. I like to think that they are. It’s amazing to think of all the things these battleships have seen and experienced over their nearly 200 year old existence, from the day they were built, through the Civil War, to their final resting place on a beach in Maine. A lot can happen in 200 years.

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Location: Off Route 190 in Eastport, close to downtown Eastport, ME. Turn onto Deep Cove Road, and travel 0.8 miles to the entrance of Shackford Head State Park (a gravel drive on your left just before the campus of the Maine State Marine Technology School).

Hours / Season: Open all year; 9:00 a.m. to sunset daily unless otherwise posted at the gate.

Fees (per person at time of publication): Adults 12 and older $4 (non-resident), $3 (Maine residents)

Seniors 65 and older $1 (non-resident), free (Maine residents)

Children 5 – 11 $1, Children under 5 free

For more information on Shackford Head State Park, visit the official website!

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The City of Eastport:

Shackford Head is obviously really cool, what with it’s Civil War history and beautiful views of the coast and all, but it’s not the only reason to visit Eastport. Here are a few more reasons to check out this small coastal town:

  • It’s the easternmost city in the US (the actual easternmost point is in West Quoddy Head State Park, and is just a rock out in the ocean)
  • Awesomely fresh and delicious seafood
  • Old Sow Whirlpool

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First let’s talk about the seafood (priorities). After spending the early part of the afternoon exploring Shackford Head, we went into town to warm up with some clam chowder! We found a great little restaurant right on the bay, and fresh clam chowder and hot tea were the perfect remedy for this cold day. Eating seafood right where it’s caught is the best. Period.

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Now let’s talk Old Sow. Old Sow is the biggest whirlpool in the western hemisphere, and the second largest in the world.

What is a whirlpool, you might ask? Here is a brief description from the Bay of Fundy website:

“This powerful whirlpool is formed when the rising tide passes both sides of Indian Island, takes a sharp right turn around the southern tip of Deer Island to flood the Western Passage.”

Basically, the currents push the water in a way that causes it to move in a circular motion, creating a large funnel leading to the ocean floor. Old Sow has clocked speeds of up to almost 7mph, which is pretty damn fast for ocean water to be spinning in a circle.

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We tried really hard to see this whirlpool. First we tried booking a harbor cruise, but it was cancelled cause the water was too rough. So then we tried to see it from the shore. I think I might have seen it, but it wasn’t very active that day and the photos look like a whole lotta nothing. To see what it looks like on a good day, do a Google search of “Old Sow Whirlpool”…it’s pretty impressive.

How can you view Old Sow?

“Old Sow is reported to be most active about 3 hours before high tide. This activity continues for about two hours and takes the form of a collection of small gyres, troughs, spouts and holes, and on the rare occasion will form one large funnel. This area, which has been reported to be as wide as 250 feet in diameter, can best be described as turbulent water. However, during spring tides (high water tide caused by a full or new moon) combined with high winds or a tidal surge will increase Old Sow’s activity causing more intense funnels and formations.” – Bay of Fundy website

The best views are from a boat (like the harbor cruise we tried to take), or from Deer Point in the Deer Island Campground, near the ferry landing at the south end of the island.

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Add in being the easternmost city in the whole country, and you’ve got one pretty awesome place to visit. For more info about all the great things to see and do in Eastport and to look for hotels, visit the Maine tourism website!


 

 

 

Happy 200th Anniversary Guinness!

200 years ago, in 1817, the first shipment of Guinness arrived in the United States and the beer scene was forever changed. What started out as just a few kegs has turned into one of the most popular and well known beers in the country. I mean, it is now, and will forever be, my favorite beer.

To celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Guinness arriving in the United States, Guinness hosted a swanky soiree in downtown LA. And I was invited! With Robbie in tow, we set out to enjoy a night of live music, Guinness nitro ice cream, a full Guinness bar with six of their beers on tap, a Guinness archive featuring old brewing journals, and cool Guinness swag….

But most importantly, Guinness even released a special limited edition 200th anniversary beer, the Export Stout, which is based on a recipe from an 1817 brewing journal entry. Yaaaass.

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Studebaker full of tasty Guinness

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Guinness archive featuring old brewing journals

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Trying the new limited edition Anniversary Stout, based on a recipe from an 1817 brewing journal entry

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Dreams do come true! A bar serving only Guinness!! ❤

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The most beautiful thing I have ever seen…

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Live music!

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Nitro Guinness ice cream from Sub Zero!

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Screen printed Guinness shirts by Family Industries LA! They were super cool and showed Robbie how to make his own shirt

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Mini chicken and biscuits. Perfection.

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I firmly believe I have the hottest boyfriend on the planet ❤

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I am so beyond happy that Guinness was brought into this country 200 years ago and is still here today. I’m not gonna get into the whole story on here, cause this post is just about sharing photos from a super cool party, but the story of Guinness is actually really interesting. Click here to read the whole Guinness story!

And if you get a chance to try the new Export Stout, do it!! It is ridiculously good, and available for a limited time only.

I LOVE YOU FOREVER, GUINNESS!!! ❤ and thanks for another awesome night!


 

 

 

Afternoon Tea at Jordan Pond House

If all your exploring in Acadia has left you hungry, stop in for some popovers at Jordan Pond House!

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Nestled right next to the lake, Jordan Pond House is an idyllic spot to warm up (or cool down) after adventuring around the park, or perhaps grab a romantic dinner.

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It has been serving its famous popovers to guests since the 1890s, making it a historic site of interest within the park.

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But foodies shall rejoice as well, because the food here is INCREDIBLE. The menu is full of mouth-watering locally sourced and seasonal food options, such as fresh Maine seafood and Maine blueberries. Yum!! Click here to view their whole menu.

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The famous popovers

The delicious popovers are served with Maine strawberry jam and butter. They may look huge, but these things are light, airy, and mostly hollow inside. And insanely addicting.

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This place gets very busy and the wait times can be horrendous, so you should definitely try to make a reservation. Click here to book online, or call (207)276-3316.

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If you are unable to get a reservation or decided to go spontaneously, the shortest waits for tables are before 11:30am or after 4pm.

Jordan Pond House is only open seasonally though, so be sure to check the website for current operating hours before you go.

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The Lobster & Crab Cakes, made with blistered corn and an oven-dried tomato and white bean salad, served with a lemon chive sauce. Totally amaze-balls.

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Pastries the size of my head… yes please!

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Lobster Stew made with fresh Beal’s lobster, butter, sherry, and cream. Just OMG. I could eat this everyday.

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An amazing meal served in a perfectly beautiful atmosphere… life doesn’t get much better than this!

P.S. the blueberry iced tea was delicious and refreshing. Trying foods and drinks made with blueberries is a must when in Maine!

LOBSTER + BLUEBERRIES = The taste of Maine.

For more information and to check operating hours, click here!


 

 

Touring Lehman Cave!

If you’re like me, you’ve probably never heard of Lehman Cave. Nor did you know there were any caves in Great Basin National Park. Or have even the slightest idea what is in Great Basin at all. It has somehow stayed under the radar, which is surprising after discovering how seriously cool this park is. It has so many distinct features that are unexpected to be found all in the same park, let alone in the middle of nowhere in Nevada.

Lehman Cave is one of these features. The only way to see the cave is by booking a tour, so here is what you need to know:

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Behind the visitor center, where the cave tour begins

Cave tour options (from the NPS website):

Lodge Room Tour

Lodge Room Tours are approximately 60 minutes long. The Lodge Room Tour travels 0.4 miles, and is ideal for families with young children. The Lodge Room Tour highlights the Gothic Palace, Music Room, and Lodge Room sections of Lehman Caves. Tours to the Lodge Room are limited to 20 visitors. White Nose Syndrome screening is mandatory.

Grand Palace Tour

Grand Palace Tours are approximately 90 minutes long. The Grand Palace Tour travels 0.6 miles, and children must be at least 5 years old to join the Grand Palace Tour (except on tours November through February). This tour visits the Gothic Palace, the Music Room, the Lodge Room, Inscription Room, and the Grand Palace sections of Lehman Caves, including a chance to view the famous “Parachute Shield” formation. Tour is limited to 20 visitors. White Nose Syndrome screening is mandatory.

 

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The natural entrance to the cave

All of the following photos were taken on the Grand Palace Tour. Cause in my opinion, if you’re gonna tour the cave, you may as well go all in and see as much of the cave as possible! It’s only a couple bucks more than the Lodge Room tour, and covers almost twice as much of the cave. Worth it.

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General Cave Tour Tips:

  • There are some stairs and narrow passageways, so visitors should be in somewhat decent shape.
  • It can get pretty cold (in the neighborhood of 50°) inside caves, so dress in layers!
  • The ground can also get wet and slippery, so wear shoes with tread.
  • They won’t allow you on the tour if you’re wearing clothes that you have worn inside any caves or mines at any point in time, so if you do frequent caves, wear something different this time to prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome.
  • Leave all bags, food, and drinks in the car, but be sure to bring your camera!

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Cave Tour Schedule*:

Fall Tour Schedule: September 5 to October 31, 2017
Grand Palace Tour (90 minutes, ages 5 & up)
9:00am & 1:00pm
Lodge Room Tour (60 minutes, all ages)
11:00am & 3:00pm
Winter Tour Schedule: November 1, 2017 through March 8, 2018
Grand Palace Tour (Open to all ages during winter schedule only)
1:00pm Monday – Friday
9:00am & 1:00pm Saturdays and Sundays
There are no tours available on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years Day.Spring Tour Schedule: March 9, 2018 – May 24, 2018
Grand Palace Tour (90 minutes, ages 5 & up)
9:00am & 1:00pm
Lodge Room Tour (60 minutes, all ages)
11:00am & 3:00pmSummer Tour Schedule: May 25, 2018 – September 3, 2018
Grand Palace Tour (90 minutes, ages 5 & up)
9:00am | 11:00am | 1:00pm | 2:00pm | 3:00pm
Lodge Room Tour (60 minutes, all ages)
8:30am | 10:30am | 12:30pm | 2:30pm | 4:00pm

 

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According to the park website, tickets can either be purchased in person at the visitor center on the day of your tour, or in advance online. But here on The Whiskey Wanderer, I’m going to say the only way to get tickets is to make a reservation online. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I saw get turned away at the visitor center, being told that the tours were not only sold out for that day, but also for the following two weeks.

The tours WILL SELL OUT (each tour is limited to only 20 people), so if you want to be sure you get to go on a tour, plan ahead and make a reservation.

Click here to book a tour.

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Ticket Prices:

Lodge Room Tour
(60 Minutes)
Grand Palace Tour
(90 Minutes)
Adults
(16 & older)
$8.00 $10.00
Youth
(5-15 years old)
$4.00 $5.00
Infants & Toddlers Free N/A
Golden Age/Senior Pass
(cardholder only)
$4.00 $5.00
Golden Access Pass
(cardholder only)
50% off 50% off

 

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Early visitors to the cave would write their names on the ceiling in soot

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Seriously though, this is one of the must-see sights in Great Basin National Park, and for good reason. This cave is super cool, and no visit to the park is complete without seeing it. Great Basin has four features that make it a ridiculously cool park, and this is one of them (the others are coming in other posts… stay tuned!). It’s definitely worth the time and money.

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For more information on Lehman Cave and Great Basin National Park, visit the official website.


 

Welcome to Jurassic Park!

Growing up in the early 90s, I (as well as practically every other 90s kid) developed an obsession with the movie “Jurassic Park.”  I had all the action figures, and my sister and I would take them on dino “adventures” in the backyard.

Well, our days of playing with action figures might be in the past, but our love of those movies has carried over well into adulthood. As many “Jurassic Park” geeks might remember, the first time we meet Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ellie Satler is at a dig site in the North American badlands. So when we decided to take a road trip to South Dakota to check out Badlands and Wind Cave National Parks, how could we resist following in the footsteps of our favorite paleontologists?

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While at a dinosaur exhibit at the LA County Fair the previous year, we stumbled upon a company called Paleo Adventures. After speaking with the owners for a few minutes, we discovered the company was run by a couple of legit paleontologists in South Dakota. Visitors could book tours through the company to go out into the badlands of South Dakota, learn about paleontology, and help dig up some dinosaurs!

Basically, any “Jurassic Park” lover’s dream come true: the ultimate “Jurassic Park” experience!

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We tried to dress up like the characters to really get into the spirit of the dig.

Paleo Adventures is a privately owned tour company that gives visitors a chance to be a paleontologist for a day. They teach you everything you need to know and provide all the tools and materials you need in order to get out there and dig up some dinosaurs! Your guide is an actual paleontologist, so he knows exactly where to dig and is able to identify any fossils you find. The best part? At the end of the tour you are able to take home most of the fossils you dig up. Yes!

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Driving to the dig site.

The digs take place out in the middle of nowhere at the site of ancient river channel deposits where a variety of isolated dinosaur, mammal, reptile, amphibian, and fish fossils can be found. Since they are usually not part of a full skeleton by the time they ended up in these river deposits, they have little scientific value anymore and can safely be collected by tourists. Of course there are exceptions, but your guide will help you with that part. Discovering and documenting new, well-preserved specimens is priority number one, and it’s super cool to be a part of that (while also taking home a few pieces as souvenirs!).

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Dinosaurs lived in South Dakota as far back as 150 million years ago!! They lived here during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods until their extinction around 65 million years ago. Back then part of South Dakota was covered by an inland sea, and the rest was open plains and sandy streams. Dinosaurs roamed through the coastal plains and river deltas (those ancient rivers that formed the bone deposits for our paleo tour). It is also believed that the climate was warmer and more humid than it is today. Nearly all of the major groups of dinosaurs lived in South Dakota at some point, including triceratops, raptors, and tyrannosaurus rex.

Resources: https://www3.northern.edu/natsource/EARTH/Dinosa1.htm

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It is recommended that you book your tour far in advance, since there are limited dates available. The tour is open to anyone 10 years or older who is in good enough health and physical condition to withstand a day of working in extreme heat and rugged conditions.

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After arriving at the Dinosaur Field Station, you are given a brief lesson to prepare you for the dig. You learn a little about fossils, dinosaurs, and how to properly excavate fossils. Then you pile into a van and are transported to the dig site! All information, training, transportation, and tools are included with the tour. The only things you need to bring are a lunch and beverages, cause it’s gonna be a long, hot day. You just show up, and Paleo Adventures takes care of the rest.

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Each participant is allowed to keep up to $50.00 worth of the common fossils they find. Fossils of commercial value can be purchased for an additional fee, and scientifically significant fossils are reserved for museums (your guide will tell you which is which).

We didn’t find a t-rex (though apparently someone on his last tour did…lucky), however I did find this awesome raptor tooth, and our guide let me keep it. I also dug up a triceratops tooth!

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This tour was everything we could’ve hoped for. Everyone found tons of fossils and we all came home with bags full of our findings.

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It was hotter than blazes when we were there, and there wasn’t much shade. To make your paleo dig more enjoyable, I would recommend bringing:

  • A hat and sunglasses
  • Plenty of water
  • A sack lunch and snacks (food isn’t provided and it’s a 12hr tour)
  • Sunblock
  • The “Jurassic Park” soundtrack to inspire you while you dig

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The best part about this tour is that you actually get to be a real paleontologist for the day. This isn’t a fake dig site… these are real fossils that have been buried here for over 65 MILLION years, and you are the first person to uncover them. How awesome is that?!

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A partially excavated fossil

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Ian Malcolm, Alan Grant, Ellie Satler, Tim, and Lex….it got hot. Our costumes didn’t make it till the end of the day.

The tour begins and ends at the Dinosaur Field Station, which is full of fun and useful stuff to purchase before or after your dig. We picked up these sweet Paleo Adventures t-shirts as souvenirs. This tour was so super ridiculously fun. We were able to learn about dinosaurs, help uncover some pieces of history from the earth, and fulfill our “Jurassic Park” dreams.

Mr. Hammond, we have decided to endorse this paleo dig.

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Prices for a 1-day dig start at $160 for adults, and $130 for kids (as of time of publishing in 2017).
Tours are by appointment only. Call 605-210-1275 or email stein151@comcast.net to book.
Digs begin at the Dinosaur Field Station at 8am and return to the Field Station no later than 8pm.
Location: 1hr east of Devil’s Tower, 1hr west of Mount Rushmore, 30min north of Deadwood. Click here for a map.

For additional information, check out the Paleo Adventures website!

Drinko de Mayo? The Real Story Behind Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Though a favorite holiday of beer drinkers and Mexican culture enthusiasts, it has been falling under some heat in recent years, with celebrators being accused of “cultural appropriation” and all sorts of other terms to imply that this holiday isn’t for everyone to celebrate. Which frankly, doesn’t sit well with me. The United States is a melting pot of dozens of cultures, and I think we SHOULD celebrate and embrace the various cultures that make up our country instead of further dividing us by saying “only our race can do this.” However, I also think that if you are going to participate in the traditions of other cultures, you should take the time to learn about it and understand what you’re doing. You wouldn’t jump out of an airplane without learning how to work a parachute, right? And you should respect the people of that culture and treat them how you would want to be treated, much in the same way in that you wouldn’t want to piss off the pilot of the airplane you’re in. Mutual respect and understanding people, it’s not hard.

So that’s my social issue rant, cause I wanted to be clear that I love all people and all cultures, just in case anyone feels the inkling to misinterpret this post. Which the fact that I even need to say that really says something about the state of our society. But whatever. This post isn’t about that. It’s about beer! Or rather, why we celebrate Cinco de Mayo here in the US and how it became such a beer drinking holiday. Are y’all still with me? Cool.

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Cinco de Mayo. We’ve all been taught since childhood that this is a Mexican holiday, and the commonly held belief is that it’s the Mexican Independence Day, aka their 4th of July. If that’s the case, why does the United States care to celebrate it? After all, other countries don’t celebrate our Independence Day. Well, the answer to that is because it’s not actually the Mexican Independence Day, and the holiday is actually a Mexican AND American holiday. Mind blown.

Understanding Cinco de Mayo requires a history lesson on two fronts. The 1860s was a tumultuous time in both Mexico and the United States, and the events of Cinco de Mayo were an important achievement for both countries.

Mexico background first. By the 1860s, Mexico was in serious debt. Years of fighting to gain their independence as well as fighting their own civil war left them unable to repay their financial debts to various European nations. When President Benito Juarez decided to default on their loans, Europe sent troops to collect payment. However, France was interested in more than just money. Napoleon III made plans to gain control of Mexico and install a French monarchy. So on May 5, 1862, 6000 French troops invaded the town of Puebla. They fought against 2000 Mexicans, and against all odds, Mexico was victorious, which was no small feat considering the French were considered to be the most powerful army in the world at the time. “Cinco de Mayo!!” became the battle cry, and President Juarez decreed that the day would be celebrated each year to commemorate their victory. There is still a huge celebration in Puebla every year on Cinco de Mayo. But France actually did end up gaining control over Mexico eventually and installed a French Emperor a couple years later, remaining in control of Mexico until 1867, thus why Cinco de Mayo isn’t a big holiday anywhere in Mexico except Puebla. Their fight was just beginning.

Meanwhile in the United States, we were in the middle of our Civil War. The Confederacy (the South) had been making advances and scoring tremendous victories against the Union by the time of Cinco de Mayo. To further their victory, the Confederacy began forming an alliance with France and seeking the aid of Napoleon III. According to historians, France planned to gain control of Mexico, and from there, assist the Confederacy. However the French defeat at Puebla gave the Union army the time it needed to gain momentum and strengthen their forces. Cinco de Mayo is considered to be a key turning point in the Civil War. Many believe that if the French had won the battle at Puebla, the outcome of the Civil War could’ve been much different. If the French had been able to combine forces with the Confederacy, the South could’ve possibly won the war, leading to the division of the United States and the continuation of slavery. So Americans have just as much reason to celebrate Cinco de Mayo as Mexicans do.

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The gigantic Mexican flag in the port of Ensenada.

Early Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the US even included parades of people dressed in Civil War uniforms, and speeches were given about how the Battle of Puebla helped win the Civil War. It was first celebrated in 1863 in the United States as a show of solidarity with Mexico against French rule.These celebrations were especially popular amongst the Hispanic populations throughout the US who had both reasons to celebrate: the victory in their homeland and the victory in their current home.

As the Mexican population in the US began to grow (especially following the end of the Mexican Civil War) the popularity of this holiday has grown exponentially. Mexicans coming into the country joined their fellow Mexican-Americans in celebrating Cinco de Mayo without necessarily understanding why they were celebrating. Over time, it became more of a day to showcase and celebrate their Mexican culture and ethnic identity rather than commemorating a battle and remembering the events that allowed us to live the lives we all have today.

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Ok..I was struggling to find photos to use with this post. This is a picture of my bestie and me in Cancun

By the 1950s and 1960s, Mexican-American youths saw this holiday as an opportunity to build Mexican-American pride, and threw huge celebrations on this day, often sponsored by corporations. And so began the commercialization of Cinco de Mayo. As the Hispanic population continued to grow, businesses (particularly the beer industry) took advantage of the rapidly growing market and began targeting Mexicans in their advertising campaigns. Starting in the 1980s following the US Census Bureau introducing the term “Hispanic,” companies began pouring millions into Cinco de Mayo advertising, including sponsoring drinking events. Basically, they saw an opportunity to increase beer and alcohol sales and they took it.

Ok, I know that was a TON of info to digest. Stay with me, we’re almost done.

Why Cinco de Mayo? There are tons of battles to choose from that were fought both here and in Mexico that we could celebrate. The hype around this particular one can be boiled down to the increasing Mexican-American population and their integration into the United States as well as clever marketing schemes. This holiday gave Mexican-Americans an opportunity to celebrate their old and new life (remember the solidarity between Mexicans and Americans against the French?). As for the marketing, several factors come into play: the growing Mexican-American population, the fact Cinco de Mayo falls during a time without any other major holidays, it’s function as a kick-off for the summer partying and beer drinking season, the fact it’s a few weeks before the next big beer event (Memorial Day), and it’s easier to pronounce and rolls off the tongue better than the actual Mexican Independence Day (Dieciseis de Septiembre, which falls during September).

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So there you have it. A fairly brief history of America’s favorite fiesta and how it became the beer-guzzling extravaganza it is today. So let’s all go out and drink some cerveza to celebrate the fact that the Mexican victory prevented the French from aiding the Confederacy, which resulted in the Union winning the Civil War, the United States remaining intact, and the abolition of slavery! Things I think we can all agree are a pretty major triumph for us all, yes? I say we should all celebrate Mexico for the role it played in helping our country (even though it was indirectly).

Do you have any favorite ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo? I love hearing new ideas of fun things to do or cool places to check out. Share your tips below!


Resources:

“More Than a Fiesta: Ethnic Identity, Cultural Politics and Cinco de Mayo Festivals in Corona, California, 1930-1950,” by Jose M. Alamillo

“Latino History and Culture: An Encyclopedia,” by David J. Leonard and Carmen R. Lugo-Lugo

“How the Gringos Stole Tequila: The Modern Age of Mexico’s Most Traditional Spirit,” by Chantal Martineau

“How to Market to People Not Like You: Know It or Blow It, Rules for Reaching Diverse Customers,” by Kelly McDonald

“Why is Cinco de Mayo More Popular in America Than in Mexico?” by Brian Greene

“Why is Cinco de Mayo Celebrated More in the U.S.?” by Suzanne Barbezat